The Relevancy of the Pendatang Dispute

In The Malaysian People’s Movement Party (Gerakan)’s recently concluded 43rd National Delegates Conference, Johor delegate Tan Lai Soon made a remark that “except for the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli, everyone else in Malaysia is a pendatang (immigrant)”

Tan backed his claim by saying that “when Umno members say that the Chinese are pendatang, they obviously forgot that they were also pendatang from Indonesia”

Tan was most probably referring to former information minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin who wondered why the Chinese were annoyed when they were referred to as “pendatang” because they identify themselves by speaking in their own dialects, and continue to isolate themselves by not mastering the national language.

Needless to say, Tan came under fire for making such a radical statement. Despite his apology, he has been suspended from his party, and may face criminal charges as a coalition of Malay NGOs called Pertubuhan Pembela Islam (Pembela) lodged a police report over the issue.

Gerakan Deputy president Datuk Dr Cheah Soon Hai attempted damage control and insisted that Tan’s remark was not the party’s stand. Cheah went on to say that Gerakan is a party of all races and that no Malaysian is a pendatang

Let us all ask ourselves the following questions. Does identifying whether the Malays were/are pendatangs:

(i) help improve racial relations?
(ii) propel our country to greater heights?
(iii) solve the social ills that plague our society?
(iv) curb crime?
(v) reduce our fiscal deficit?
(vi) improve the living standards of Malaysians?

Any reasonable man would be able to tell you that the answer to the aforementioned questions is a simple ‘no.’

Delving into whether Malays are/were pendatangs is akin to opening a Pandora’s box. It would have severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences

What matters is that Article 153(2) of the Federal Constitution  guarantees the special position of the Malays and the bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak. Let us learn to respect that.

It is also a fait accompli that the non-malays and non-bumiputeras were once immigrants, in the sense that their ancestors came from different parts of the world, for different purposes (mainly to make a living). Let us learn to acknowledge that

But let us take note that was way before we achieved independence! Many of the non-malays and non-bumiputeras are at least second or third generation Malaysians. Therefore, the question of ‘who is a pendatang’ is no longer relevant!

Malaysia has been an independent nation for 51 years! That’s over half a century! It is shocking that after so many years, we are still divided by history

History should bring us to the realisation that we Malaysians are stronger together! As cliche as it sounds, there is so much truth in the idiom ‘united we stand, divided we fall’

Instead of focusing on what pulls us apart, why not focus on what brings us together? Things like sports, fighting corruption, eradicating poverty, combating crime, and addressing wastages of taxpayers’ monies

I beseech both sides of the divide to ceasefire! Stop dishing out ‘pendatang’ remarks (or any divisive/racial/derogatory remark for that matter).

We are ALL here to stay. It is time to wake up and smell the coffee! The sooner you realise it and celebrate our diversity, the quicker our nation can progress

*This awesome piece was featured by The Malaysian Insider , Malaysiakini

Preaching To The Choir

I could not agree more with Member of Parliament (MP) for Teluk Intan, Mah Siew Keong when he said that the future of Malaysian politics is in multi-racial parties instead of single race entities

However, he seems to be preaching to the choir. What he should be doing, is addressing this to his partners in Barisan Nasional (BN). After all, UMNO, MCA and MIC are race based political parties

After 56 years (approaching 57 years of independence), one has to wonder if race based political parties propels the country forward or contributes to the significant division between the many races in Malaysia

Political parties like DAP, PKR, and Gerakan are multi-racial parties which best represent the new generation of Malaysians who see themselves as Malaysians before as Malays, Chinese, Indians, or others. 

In the past, Dato Seri Onn bin Ja’afar called for UMNO party membership to be opened to non-malays and for the party to be renamed the United Malayans National Organisation.

However, the idea was shot down by many. He then left UMNO to form the Independence of Malaya Party, and subsequently, Parti Negara

Unfortunately both parties failed to meet it’s potential due to the lack of support by the Malaysians then. But all that happened about 50 years ago! Shouldn’t things have changed for the better?

Aren’t Malaysians generally mature enough to accept the fact that we are all in this together? Regardless of how some of our ancestors came to Malaya, we’re all Malaysians now

We all contribute to the economic well-being of the country by way of spending, investing, paying tax, etc. The time is right to rid ourselves of race-based political parties

Mah needs to have a serious chat with his political buddies in his capacity as president of Gerakan. After all, everyone knows the correct answer to the problem. Being willing to do the right thing and potentially suffering for it is a different story

Multi-racial parties are truly the way forward!

*Also read it at The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and The Malaysian Times

The True And Fair View

Ahmad Maslan (Chief of Communication for UMNO Malaysia) regarding the candidates for the upcoming Teluk Intan by-elections, said that Mah Siew Keong would beat Dyana Sofya 5-0. Ahmad Maslan (henceforth AM) brought up 5 points as to why Mah (BN’s candidate) is the better choice

Firstly AM compared them in terms of education. As per Bernama, Mah has “a Bachelor of Science from the London School of Economic and Master’s degree from City University London, as well as a law degree from University of East London.” It is also a fact that Dyana only has a diploma in law from UiTM

Clearly such a comparison would be in immense favour of Mah. However, it is important to note that Dyana is merely 27 years old while Mah is 52 (almost twice her age). Dyana should not be looked down upon simply because she has a meagre diploma compared to Mah’s four bachelor degrees

By the time Dyana is 52, she may even have a better qualification than Mah. Education is not a fair playing ground considering the vast difference in their age

AM’s second and third point was regarding experience. He said that Mah was the Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) for Pasir Bedamar as well as a two-term Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan.

AM conveniently forgot to mention that Mah lost twice at Teluk Intan, while Dyana is yet to lose. Primarily because she has never contested prior to Teluk Intan.

Yet again, this is not a very fair comparison as Dyana has only been in DAP for around 3 years and this is her debut whereas Mah is a political veteran and has had his fair shares of victories and defeats

One cannot say Mah is a better candidate simply because he has experience. Everyone needs to start somewhere! In due time, Dyana may be a better representative of the people. Only time will tell such things

AM forgot the crucial age factor when he mentioned that Mah was once “ketua Gerakan Teluk Intan, pimpinan gerakan Perak, setiausaha agung parti, ketua pemuda dan sekarang presiden parti. Dyana ahli biasa DAP.” Was Mah all that at the age of 27? Nope

As to position, Dyana is Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary. You know who else held a similar position? Teressa Kok. She’s the MP who won Seputeh with a 51,552 vote majority in the 13th General Election.

Undeniably it doesnt mean the same would happen to Dyana’s political career, but it does make the mind wonder if Lim Kit Siang has a knack for identifying politicians with a bright career ahead of them

The fourth point is about Mah being backed by “menteri besar, perdana menteri, menteri, agensi kerajaan pusat dan negeri.” How true is that? Mah failed to bring revolutionary changes to Teluk Intan despite being the MP there for two terms

Was it because he wasn’t adequately backed then? What has changed? Are things different now that Mah is president of Gerakan?

While it is true that BN makes up the federal government, forms the state government in Perak, and thus would logically pull strings to help those on their side, Dyana has something Mah doesn’t. B-R-A-V-E-R-Y. Dyana was brave enough to contest in a Chinese majority seat, whereas all this while, Mah has been contesting in Chinese majority seats

Although the odds are stacked against Dyana, I believe she would do her best to bring positive changes if she wins Teluk Intan. Mainly because she has a point to prove and a lot of critics to put to shame.

Point 5 seems like the killer as it would seem that Mah has the home ground advantage while Dyana is viewed as an “outsider.” However, in the past, M Manogaran and the late Seah Leong Peng both defeated Mah at Teluk Intan. Perhaps it is time to face the reality that being born at a place doesn’t mean one a definite winner and/or a better wakil rakyat 

Furthermore, Lim Kit Siang in his blog post rebutted this point by saying, “NOT being local did not prevent two Perak born former MCA presidents – Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Ong Ka Ting – from serving as MPs in Johor for most of their political lives.”

Regardless of the outcome, this will go down in history as one of the most bizarre by-elections thanks to the candidates, their parties, as well as all the dirty politics and cheap promises made

*You can always read this at The Malaysian Insider